19th amendment hits another roadblock?
April 28, 2015 05:11 pm
(UPDATE): The Parliamentary session was extended by one hour due to the discussion between Party Leaders.
A special discussion between party leaders’ was held in the Parliament Complex, with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa as the passing of the 19th Amendment appears to have hit more roadblocks.
The meeting is being held with regard to the proposed amendments to the draft bill put forward by the opposition.
The urgent meeting comes as Parliament prepares to take the second reading vote on the key amendment bill, which looks to curtail the President’s executive powers, this evening and amidst fresh doubts over the eventual result.
Ada Derana reliably learns that a certain group of UPFA Parliamentarian are against the sections in the 19th amendment which were proposed by the United National Party (UNP), however are for the proposals put forth by their party.
During the UPFA Parliamentary Group meeting held this afternoon, these MPs had proposed that the party vote against the amendments brought by the UNP and pass only those brought by the UPFA.
Meanwhile the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs, Dr Harsha de Silva says that he feels the 19th amendment is in “trouble.”
“I am worried about the fate of the 19th as two issues have not been resolved,” he wrote on his official Facebook earlier today.
The first issue, Silva says, is over the appointing of the Cabinet. He says that the opposition wants the President to keep power pertaining to appoint a Cabinet of his choice. As per the Supreme Court determination, the 19th amendment proposes that the President appoint the Cabinet on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The second issue is the inclusion of non-political persons in the Constitutional Council. The Constitutional Council is proposed to be constituted by 7 non-political eminent persons and 3 politicians; PM, Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition.
However, the opposition says that the council cannot have independent persons but instead should comprise of 10 MPs. “This will completely negate the depolitisization of the CC and thereby all appointments to the independent commissions,” Silva said.
The deputy minister points out that yet another very important technical issue that can derail the 19th amendment exists.
“The Secretary General is apparently, and correctly, of the view that once the 2nd reading of the 19th is passed with a 2/3rd majority the amendments can be passed with a simple majority.”
“If that is the case then the shape and form of the 19th can be seriously changed at committee stage unless there is agreement on the above two matters prior to the vote,” he wrote.
A special committee was appointed yesterday to iron out differences pertaining to the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera, Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran were named to the six-member committee, which also comprises of UPFA MPs Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Rajiva Wijesinghe and Faizer Mustapha.
The Committee was set-up following a party leaders’ meeting yesterday as both sides could not forge a consensus on the amendments that have been suggested to date and was tasked with producing a final set of amendments that could be agreeable to both parties.